Ultrasonic cavitation, or ultrasound cavitation, is a cosmetic procedure that’s used to break apart fat deposits in your body. The treatment claims to work as an effective, less invasive alternative to liposuction.
There are very few risks associated with this procedure, but that doesn’t mean that there are no side effects.
Bruising and pain are common short-term side effects, and some people have loose skin or dimples and waves in their skin after healing from this treatment.
Ultrasonic cavitation is advertised as being extremely convenient because recovery is minimal and side effects are rare.
The most time-consuming part of the process might be finding and consulting with a licensed, trained provider who has experience doing the treatment.
This treatment varies in effectiveness, and more clinical trials are needed to have a clear understanding of how well it works.
What is ultrasonic cavitation treatment?
Ultrasonic cavitation, also called ultrasonic lipolysis, is a body contouring treatment that is used to remove fat deposits under your skin. It can also be referred to by brand names, such as Liponix or Ultrashape.
This procedure is a safer alternative to surgical options, like liposuction. The treatment uses ultrasonic radio waves to break apart fat cells, which are then absorbed into your body by your lymphatic system.
Ultrasonic cavitation is different than other similar treatments, like ultrasound liposuction, because it doesn’t require any incisions. This means recovery is easier. It also means that results might be less noticeable.
The ideal candidate for ultrasonic cavitation:
Ultrasonic cavitation is meant to target small areas of fat and help contour your body. It isn’t a treatment for people who are trying to lose a lot of weight.
The verdict is still out on how well ultrasound cavitation works. There’s promising evidence to suggest that this is an effective body contouring treatment.
If you’re considering this treatment for yourself, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the costs, side effects, procedure, recovery time, and more.
How does ultrasonic cavitation work?
Ultrasonic cavitation relies on ultrasound technology to break apart fat cells.
Ultrasound waves are sent deep into the layers of your skin, causing a disruptive vibration. Fat cells then break apart from each other and are dislodged from your dermal layers.
After a few days, the fat cells are absorbed by your lymphatic system and drained as waste from your body.
It’s difficult to tell how effective this treatment is, but recent research is promising.
A small 2019 study tested the effectiveness of ultrasonic cavitation for 50 women who were considered medically overweight.
Half of the women simply followed a low-calorie diet, while the other half had the low-calorie diet with radiofrequency and ultrasound body contouring procedures.
After 5 weeks, the women who had been given ultrasonic cavitation showed a reduction in body fat mass. Interestingly, they didn’t lose more weight than the other group — they simply lost body fat.
Another small study done much earlier in 2007 followed 30 individuals who were all given ultrasonic cavitation body contouring treatment.
Participants all saw a reduction in body fat mass after three treatments. The treated body fat area was reduced in size by one to three centimeters at the conclusion of the study.
This study also showed that study participants didn’t lose weight – they just lost fat.
What happens during an ultrasonic cavitation session?
The procedure for ultrasonic cavitation is pretty straightforward.
On the day of your appointment, your doctor may ask you to undress in private and put on a paper gown, depending on the area of your body that you’re treating.
Your doctor may sterilize the area of your treatment using alcohol. Using a handheld ultrasound device, they’ll slowly go over the target area of your body.
You may feel a warm sensation during the procedure and hear a buzzing from the ultrasound machine. Treatments typically take between 40 minutes to an hour.
Ultrasonic cavitation side effects
Ultrasonic cavitation is considered a low-risk treatment for most people. Common side effects include:
In some cases, the skin won’t absorb the fat evenly after it breaks down. Lumps, bumps, and valleys on your skin can appear after ultrasonic cavitation treatment.
These skin irregularities may be resolved by followup treatments.
Preparing for ultrasonic cavitation
To prepare for your appointment, your provider will give you detailed instructions, which you should follow carefully.
Make sure that you disclose the following to your provider before your appointment:
You may also be advised to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, in the 2 weeks leading up to your procedure.
Drink plenty of water before and after your treatment so that your body can flush out fat deposits quickly.
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